“Sitting in Bars with Cake,” based on the novel by Audrey Shulman and executive-produced by Yara Shahidi, Janet Knutsen, and Teri Simpson, is very well produced.
Inspired by true events, “Sitting in Bars with Cake” follows Jane (Yara Shahidi) and Corinne (Odessa A’zion), best friends since elementary school, as they navigate life in Los Angeles in their 20s. Corinne, the ultimate extrovert, convinces her shy but extremely talented baker best friend, Jane, to commit to a year of baking cakes and bringing them to bars (also known as “cakebarring”) with the goal of meeting people and developing confidence.
During their year of cakebarring, Corinne receives a life-altering diagnosis, and the pair face a challenge unlike anything they’ve experienced before. “Sitting in Bars with Cake” isn’t only a madcap joyride through some of L.A.’s most colorful watering holes; it’s a moving celebration of female friendship, forging identity, and finding joy in the most unexpected places.
There’s a lot to like about “Sitting in Bars with Cake” and a lot to love. The friendship between Jane and Corinne as they try to live their best lives in challenging Los Angeles rings true. Their lives are closely intertwined. They live together and work at the same PR agency, housed in the iconic Capitol Records building. Corinne works as an assistant to a formidable powerhouse, Benita (played by Bette Midler), while Jane toils in the mailroom. Jane’s true passion lies in baking, and she harbors the secret desire to veer away from her high-powered family’s expectations of a legal career.
The bolder Corrine believes that Jane’s reserved nature requires some shaking up. An idea takes shape: Jane should bake cakes and take them to bars—a quirky tactic to meet potential romantic interests. The Los Angeles nightlife may not appeal to Jane, but she reluctantly embarks on this endeavor. Corinne takes it upon herself to give Jane a complete makeover, setting the stage for an unexpected journey.
“Sitting in Bars with Cake” takes an unexpected turn early on, propelled by events based on real-life experiences, effectively steering away from the initial premise of cakebarring. When Corinne is diagnosed with cancer, her parents (Ron Livingston and Martha Kelly) temporarily move in to offer support and care. Then the story shifts to her illness, and the characters navigate unforeseen obstacles.
Bette Midler has a small but significant role, and in some ways, it’s a nod to her iconic performance in “Beaches” (1988), profoundly influencing the film’s emotional resonance.
Once the story delves into the issues of loss, the cake-related sequences serve more as a backdrop than a driving force, despite the film’s title. But that’s okay. Life happens and the genuine camaraderie portrayed by the two young actresses and the supporting cast allows the film to successfully navigate this shift in focus.
The film also benefits from its authentic Los Angeles settings, providing a refreshing sense of realism often absent in contemporary cinema. While the cake aspect of the story may feel somewhat forced, considering its role as the film’s organizing principle, the genuine and heartfelt portrayal of the enduring friendship between Jane and Corinne ultimately transcends the initial gimmick.
Kudos to Yara Shahidi as both an actress and an executive producer. It’s a job well done on both fronts.
“Sitting in Bars with Cake” is now available for streaming on Prime Video and features a cast including Yara Shahidi, Odessa A’’zion, Bette Midler, Ron Livingston, and Martha Kelly.
Official Hashtag: #SittingInBarsWithCake
Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok: @PrimeVideo @AmazonStudios